Letting Go And Letting God

As I lay in bed recovering from a surgery I had this morning, I wanted to share some thing’s I’ve come to realize over the past few months.

This past year has been an uphill battle. A struggle between myself and the world around me. A time of great worry and anxiety, as I fought to define myself and not listen to the echo’s of others. Although, despite my consistent attempts, I would fail. I hindered to the cause because I let my beliefs merge with those of others. I became so disoriented with their perception of me that I molded it to fit the one that I held for myself. Therefore, every ounce of work and effort that I put it myself was overlooked in comparison to my labeled failures from others.

At this time, I knew myself well enough to understand that I was not the person that they were labeling me to be. I stood for something and what I stood for was in complete contradiction to their views. Yes, I was strong-willed because of the environment I was raised in. Yes, I was stubborn and didn’t willingly submit to their options. Most importantly, I was determined. I prioritized differently than they did. To me, my future was my world. It was the reasoning for everything that I did and occasionally it sheltered me. But honestly, it was the greatest competitor for them. The obstacle they would have to endure. So instead of tolerating it, they broke it down. Along with it, they destroyed who I had been.

Soon enough, I slowly progressed into the person they labeled me. A person I wasn’t proud to become. Because in my heart, I knew I was destined for so much more. But in an attempt to fit in and catch a breath, I became her. I was the girl I had fought so hard not to become. My mind was a place of discontent. I didn’t recognize the girl who stood in front of me. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t sleep. This was not me and I wasn’t going to settle for this.

As the year took a turn, I fought for myself. I fought to rebuild the wall that stood for everything I wanted to be and was. Brick by brick, I rebuilt everything into something I was proud of. I limited the materials of my new shelter to the one’s that were more inclusive and goal-orientated. I let go of the negativity, or at least managed my own. I listened to the direction that God was directing me towards and made choices that would benefit myself. I did not need to be everyone’s caregiver, as I previously was. I decided to start over with a clean slate and allow God to fill my life with what he felt necessary.

Over time, I lightened the load on my heart and restored balance into my life. I conditioned myself to only be vulnerable with those who shared similar passion in their hearts as I. Individuals who would uplift each other, rather than belittle. I listened to the voice that God led me by and to this day, I continue to do so. Because at the end of the day, He is greater than the highs and lows. He understands you better than you can ever understand yourself. He listens and does not judge. He empowers and if you let Him, He will direct your life to places you never thought possible. Hang with him, He will help you catch your breath.

So, let go and let God. I’m ending this year with only my family and one of my closest friends left in my life, but this is okay. This friend has done nothing but support me and lift me up through the toughest of times and as far as I’m concerned, she’s the only one that I need. After letting go of so many negative people in my life, I finally have the courage to pursue the dreams I moved to Dallas for.

Sometimes, stepping back and listening can refresh you life in unimaginable ways.

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Why I Love Nursing

Recently, I fell back in love with nursing. For a while when I was going through a lot, I truly debated on quitting nursing all together because I thought it was too much for me.

I came to realize that going to work and helping other people every single day is what makes me happy on my worst days. So, this post is about why I chose nursing and why I love it.

Choosing to major in Nursing means more than just choosing a career path. It takes much more than being able to get through Nursing School and pass the tests to be a Nurse, becoming a nurse is a life choice. One has to establish compassion and drive to be successful in such a field.

I have always wanted to positively impact a person’s life. By becoming a Nurse, I have the opportunity to positively impact someone every day. When I am working with a patient who is ill I have the ability to make them well. I love the fact that I can help make someone better and make their families happy. Caring for people is what I like to do most and in this career my caring personality is put to the test. It takes a special person to be able to handle being a nurse and I believe that I was made for this.

While I chose nursing, I also chose to specialize in the Neonatal field.

Here comes the nerdy side of me to give all of you some good information on the NICU.

Everyone knows how big hospitals can be. No matter what ailment might be plaguing you or a family member, there’s definitely a specialized area in a local hospital to go to for treatment. Some of these areas, like the emergency department or the operating room, are common knowledge to just about everyone. However, there are other areas, such as the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) that most people have never even heard of let alone have visited. The NICU is certainly one of the most incredible places in the hospital, and the work that the practitioners there carry out can sometimes seem like the stuff of miracles.

So, what is the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit? The word “neonatal” refers to newborn babies and this is really the only part of the phrase that throws people for a loop. Just about everyone knows what an intensive care unit is. The NICU is a unit in some hospitals that treats premature and very sick babies using quite sophisticated and advanced treatment plans. Basically, if a baby is born and needs a little extra help, they go to the NICU to receive that life-saving treatment.

It’s not really a surprise that this unit is unintentionally a bit of a secret at hospitals. Only about one in every eight babies ends up needs to go to the NICU, and usually, these newborns have a very short stay. The NICU also isn’t really glamorized on medical dramas all too often, which is where many people come to learn about how the world of healthcare works. Just about everyone who knows about the NICU has heard about this place because someone familiar to them needed to spend time there.

Many people don’t realize how many things can go wrong in a pregnancy until it actually happens. Major problems can come up; babies can be born premature, can be born with a birth defect, and can sometimes be born with an infection of some kind. All of these things, among others, can prove deadly to newborns. It’s up to the nurses, doctors, and nurse practitioners in the NICU to give these babies a chance at life. These healthcare professionals do some pretty incredible things, and are responsible for giving life to little people who would have never had a shot at the long life that they have yet to live.

A normal pregnancy takes 40 weeks to reach term. In the NICU, it’s not uncommon for babies to be admitted that have only been in utero for 24 weeks and survive. Yes, you read that correctly; survival even after being born four months too early. Now, think back to how heavy you weighed when you were born. Were you really chubby and weighed maybe ten pounds? Were you really skinny and weighed six or so pounds? Somewhere in between? Well, some babies sent home with their families from the NICU were born at two pounds or less. That’s pretty tough to imagine until you see it for yourself, but that is TINY.

That’s why a baby weighing a pound and half looks like. And babies like this survive all of the time in the NICU. These newborns aren’t always just little; babies can sometimes be born with problems like holes in their hearts, organs being outside of their bodies, or with other complicated defects, and many of them go on to survive from these issues with the NICU’s help. It’s heartbreaking when they do not survive, but this is what makes the NICU practitioners truly incredible. They work their hardest, pouring their hearts and souls into every baby, trying to give every single baby a chance even when the future is completely unknown.

If you or a family member ever has a baby that needs to spend time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, there’s no doubt that this will be a very scary experience. However, you can rest assured knowing that NICU healthcare providers are brilliant at what they do. The image of a newborn baby in the NICU incubator with a plethora of wires and tube surrounding him or her might give the family scare, but all of this is life-saving and very necessary. In no time at all, most NICU babies will be sent home after receiving their extraordinary care, and will grow up living a happy, healthy life.

Now that you know all about the NICU, here’s why I chose to pursue this field.

I’ve heard it all.

“Nurses work long hours, are you sure you can do it?”

“When you get a boyfriend you won’t be able to spend much time together.”

“It’s a morbid job filled with death and illness.”

“You wont want to have kids after you see what goes on.”

I have weighed the pros and cons, trust me. I have thought and prayed about it for a long time. It’s physically and emotionally demanding. I see death, I see illness, maybe I wont want to have kids; but I get to help save babies lives every single day so that their parents can take them home.

Here are some amazing things about working in the NICU…

1. For being small, babies have such a huge will to fight.

From conception to birth, all babies do is grow and thrive to be able to survive in the outside world. When those babies come out of the womb, they want to fight for life and fight for a chance to see the world. No matter what obstacle they are faced with, they will fight through it and for a small, sick baby, that’s a huge accomplishment.

2. Babies can spend weeks, months, or even years in the NICU.

This can be a long time to spend with a family and their newborn. During this time, you get to watch the baby thrive to become healthy to be able to go home. During this time you get the privilege to educate the parents on their newborn. Along with educating them, you become someone the family trusts. From delivering the good news to delivering bad news, the family will rely on you to help their family and their new baby.

3. Each day brings a new challenge.

In the NICU, no day is the same as the last. Every family is different, every situation is different, and every baby is different. Two cases may be similar, but no two cases will produce the same outcome. Everyday you have to come in with an open mind, prepared to tackle whatever challenge is thrown at you.

4. Parents will rely on you.

Depending on where you are working, parents might come from around the country to your hospital to be treated. They may come alone, they may come with their whole extended family. Either way, parents will rely on you. When they need to step out to get rest or eat, or just take a break, they will be relying on you to keep their baby safe. You become a part of their family.

5. Your work does not go unnoticed.

Years after babies leave the NICU, you may have forgotten specific details about them, but they will not forget about you. Parents won’t forget your name. They wont forget what you did for them and their baby. Months after they get out of the hospital with their newborn, they will be telling everyone about you and the work that was done. Recently I received an invitation to my very first patients 1st Birthday Party, so trust me, they will never forget what you did for them.

I love working in this field, and I’m glad that I was able to fall in love with it all over again. I’m also certified to work with special needs children, which I do 2 days out of the week. Both of these specializations are amazing and make me happy so I will continue to do both no matter how much time it takes or how stressful it may get.

I hope this post shines some light on all of the amazing people that work in the NICU. Not many people know about us, but those that do know the amazing work we do every single day.

 

The Brutal Truth About Surviving Abuse

I am a survivor. I am not a victim, but a survivor. That makes all the difference.

This is not an article full of statistics, nor a sad attempt to guilt you into feeling sorry for me. This is me, writing to inform you of the long-term effects that abuse has on people. It’s not based on statistics or various studies, but on personal experience.

Did you know that domestic abuse occurs every twenty minutes? Did you know that over 10 million men and women are abused every year? What about the fact that only 25% of domestic abuse situations are reported every year? What about the fact that there are over 10,000,000 children are exposed to domestic abuse every year. I lived through this for over a year. I ended up in the hospital because of this 3 different times.

Did you know that there are over 3.6 million reports of child abuse each year? Did you know that almost double that are never even reported? What about the fact that a report is made every ten seconds? TEN SECONDS. Or the fact that roughly four to five children die every single day due to child abuse? I work with some of these children every single day. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen the trauma they endure. I’ve held them because they’re scared and have no idea what to do. I’ve seen it all.

I bet most of you didn’t know any of this. I mean, why would you unless you had a serious interest in it? You wouldn’t.

But I do.

I care because I went through it. I care because I know countless other people who went through it as well. I care because I see it every single day.

The worst thing isn’t even the chaotic nights when someone comes home in a rage and hurts whatever or whoever is in their path. The worst isn’t the holes in the walls or the relentless screaming. The worst isn’t the bruises or the chunks of hair that were pulled out. The worst isn’t even the night that this person violated you in ways that hurts to even talk about, much less think about.

It’s the guilt. It’s the overwhelming feeling that you believe you deserve it. You feel as if you did something wrong, and the abuse was the rightful punishment.

It’s the anxiety. It’s the nights of over thinking that occur months later when the memories pop up. Your heart rate rises, your thoughts run rampant, and you feel like a prisoner to your own mind as you replay that moment over and over.

It’s the crippling fear. It’s the way your heart races when you pass a certain place, or you altogether avoid another. It’s staying at home rather than going out because you’re frightened that you will run into that person or remember what happened.

It’s the depression. It’s the days where you can’t fathom the thought of dragging yourself out of bed. It’s the sluggishness, the “dark cloud.” It’s the way you try to hide yourself away in hopes of just disappearing altogether. It’s numbing yourself so that you no longer have to feel the unbearable pain.

It’s the nightmares. The nights when you wake up in a cold sweat, panting for breath as you recall the inescapable fear you experienced moments before. You saw it all, every moment of your abuse played over and over again. It makes you debate whether or not to even sleep, because the nightmares already make it worse.

What comes after is anger. It’s the feeling of wanting revenge, wanting justice. It’s the way your blood will boil when you hear of it happening to someone else because you know the feeling so well.

It’s the skittishness. It’s the way you will cower away when someone so much as raises their voice at you. It’s the way you immediately break into a million pieces as soon as someone raises a hand in frustration. It’s the way you over think when someone new gets upset with you.

It’s the cries for help. While some may be louder than life itself, some may be silent. It may be reaching out to someone. It may be walking with your head down in hopes that someone reaches out to you. Maybe it’s even a post that’s practically screaming for help. Regardless, you want someone to know that you’re hurting and you need help more than they could even fathom.

What comes after is the acceptance. It’s coming to terms with the fact that sometimes there’s just no rhyme or reason as to why you were abused. The truth is, people suck. People are flawed humans, driven by sin. That’s not your fault.

What happened to you is in no way your fault. It’s theirs. Please, don’t think otherwise. Please know that there are people out there who understand. To you, in this time of absolute despair, it seems as if there’s no way that anyone could know what it feels like — but that’s not the truth.

I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to be afraid everywhere you go. I know how it feels to cry yourself to sleep as the memories come flooding in like a tsunami. I understand.

I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t still haunt me from time to time. I put on a brave face most of the time, but there are still nights when it’s all that I can think about. There are still places that I actively avoid, even if it has been almost 2 years.

The truth is, no amount of time could ever mend a heart that has been abused and shattered. But there is one thing. One person. God.

He flipped my world upside down the day that I laid by abused heart at His feet. He assured me that because of what He gave up on the cross that day, that I never had to let my abuse define me. I didn’t have to let the depression and anxiety settle in.

So while the sad truth may be that abuse hurts in more ways than just a punch to the face does, there is also a joyous truth about abuse. The truth is that it doesn’t define us. It doesn’t have to keep us down. It doesn’t have to keep me silent. Why? Because I have a God who saves. A God who loves. A God who makes all things new.

While there are days where the memories come back a little too strong. I know that I’m not a victim. I was not crippled by what happened. I overcame, because God delivered me. I am a survivor, and I will live to tell others that their abuse does not signify the end of them, but a new beginning.

 

 

I Choose Kindness

I choose kindness because I have lived through so much tragedy already. I have witnessed some of the largest natural disasters, the largest domestic attacks and the largest foreign attacks that the world has ever seen. At the brink of tragedy, there has always been kind people to pick up the broken pieces, to save survivors and to shelter animals. There is good in the world.

I choose kindness because I have experienced personal pain. I have broken bones and been sick for weeks on end. I have struggled validating my self-worth, I have felt heartbroken and I have had loved ones die unexpectedly. I remember I have also lived through all of these worst days.

I choose kindness because I know how it feels to spread it. I know what it’s like to look at someone’s face after you distribute a genuine compliment. I know what it’s like to give advice to a friend that needs it. I know what it’s like to do community service with children, with the elderly, with the disables, with my friends, with the homeless and the sick. I know what it’s like to do a teeny action and see it make a difference in somebody’s day. You just never know when the teeny action changes somebody’s life.

I choose kindness because I know how it feels to receive it. A warm hug from a friend you haven’t seen in a while or hearing “I love you” from a family member are two small examples of the kindness I have received in just 24 hours. I remember these things more than I remember the tough things I have experienced in the last 24 hours.

I choose kindness because in the midst of everything going on in politics, in nature, in human relations and economics, I can recognize that there is just too much hate in this world. You can be different from someone or have complete polar opposite views than someone, but where in our humanity did we forget that we are all simply human?

Kindness is in fact a choice. A choice you can make every single day. No matter what you’re doing, no matter who you’re speaking to, you owe it to the world to just be kind because you don’t want hate to spread to you. We all need kindness, and we need to expect nothing in return when we deliver it. It makes you a better you, and it makes this crazy planet a little less crazy.

So, I encourage all of you reading this to spread small acts of kindness. Trust me, you never know who’s day/life you could change by simply being kind to them.

Examples:

  • Pay it forward while you’re on your morning coffee run, help start someone else’s day off with a smile.
  • Give someone a genuine compliment.
  • Send a friend a simple sweet text to make their day.
  • Go visit your parents/grandparents.
  • Open the door for someone. (I know this should be a basic gesture, but it isn’t anymore.)

My Favorite Bible Verses

I have a long ride home to Texas today so that I can get back in time for work, so I missed church this morning. I decided to spend time in the car collecting my most favorite bible verses and share them with all of you. 🙂

Exodus 14:14The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Deuteronomy 31:8 “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

1 Samuel 2:2 “There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.”

2 Chronicles 15:4 “But in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them.”

Nehemiah 8:10 “Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Job 5:9 “He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.”

Psalms 17:7 “Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.”

Psalms 22:19 “But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.”

Psalms 23:6 “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Psalms 25:5 “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

Psalms 28:7-8 “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. The Lord is strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.”

Psalms 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalms 37:5 “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this.”

Psalms 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

Psalms 46:5 “God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.”

Psalms 46:10 “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalms 61:2 “From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

Psalms 62:8 “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”

Psalms 67:7 “May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.”

Psalms 71:20 “Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.”

Psalms 91:11-12 “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”

Psalms 93:4 “Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea — the Lord on high is mighty.”

Psalms 100:5 “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Psalms 119:114 “You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your world.”

Psalms 128:4 “Yes. this will be the blessing for the man who fears the Lord.”

Psalms 130:5 “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.”

Psalms 139:14 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Psalms 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Proverbs 11:27 “Whoever seeks good finds favor, but evil comes to one who searches for it.”

Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”

Isaiah 7:9 “The head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is only Remaliah’s son. If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.”

Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”

Isaiah 40:29 “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”

Isaiah 40:31 “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

Isaiah 46:4 “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

Isaiah 58:11 “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Hosea 6:1 “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.”

Micah 7:7 “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.”

Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 17:20 “He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Matthew 21:21 “Jesus replied, ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.”

Mark 5:34 “He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

Mark 9:23 “If you can?’ said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Luke 1:45 “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Luke 6:21 “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”

Luke 12:32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”

Luke 22:46 “Why are you sleeping?’ he asked them. ‘Get up and pray, so that you will not fall into temptation.”

Romans 8:18 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” ** My all time favorite **

Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

1 Corinthians 2:5 “so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”

1 Corinthians 15:10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them — yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”

1 Corinthians 15:14-17 “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”

1 Corinthians 16:13 “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we live by faith, not by sight.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Ephesians 1:18 “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”

Ephesians 2:19-22 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

Ephesians 3:12 “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”

Ephesians 3:16-17 “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love.”

Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”

Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present you requests to God.”

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

1 Timothy 4:12 “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Hebrews 12:7 “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?”

James 1:6 “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

James 1:12 “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

James 5:13 “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.”

1 Peter 1:6 “In all this you greatly rejoice, through now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”

1 Peter 3:9 “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

1 Peter 4:4 “They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you.”

1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

1 Peter 5:9 “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

John 5:4-5 “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”

John 13:7 “Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you, I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 16:20 “Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.”

John 16:22 “So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 20:29 “Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

 

Veteran’s Day

A letter to my father,

There are so many things I have to say to you. Let me start by apologizing for now saying everything I’ve ever wanted to say to you. I know it is a bit ridiculous for now, being 22 years old, to show the appreciation, love, and gratitude towards you, but I now understand that I was naïve before. You have done so much for me, my mother, and this country. I know the right words to say.

When you first got that phone call, I was confused. I was so young, and you were so secretive. We had just moved to this new town, then you were going to be whisked away to another far off land. I do not remember crying then. I vaguely remember you explaining to the 1st grade me that you had to go off to training. There were nights you came home sooner than expected and I would run out to the driveway to meet you halfway — to get that famous big hug of yours. I also looked out for you by the kitchen window when you would come home as scheduled. I could have gotten into that routine.

However, life is not perfect and I learned that at a young age. You had already told me countless stories of what it was like at basic training and life on the base. I had it all imagined that you were going to be safe and sound, just busy with work. You were not going to some other military base and I realized that fully when we got to the airport. You were being deployed to Afghanistan, a place that I had no idea existed until you left. I remember tears here. I cried when you walked to security checkpoint A, and I cried the whole way home. I remember also getting angry at you for leaving. You left at a point I thought I needed you the most. I’m sorry for all the hateful things I said to you then. If only I recognized then the large sacrifice you were making.

From that point on, I waited for your 8 p.m. phone call. Through these calls, I told you about school, boys, cheerleading, pageants, Alabama football, or the latest gossip in school. In return, you told me stories of the local people you encountered that day or what life was like in the Middle East. I also remember that during a Christmas you were away, mom and I created an “I miss you” chain. Each day, we added a new link of construction paper around the tree, waiting for you to come back. I think that year was the hardest for me.

Besides trying to cope with you being gone, which sent me to my first therapist, I was getting bullied in the 6th grade. There was a girl in my class that would tell me that you were going to die from being a soldier. Countless times, former classmates would advise me on how to say goodbye to you and how to prepare for it. I also got asked countless times how many people you had killed. All of it caused me to be so terrified whenever they mentioned a soldier had died in combat or there was the one incident a helicopter crashed near your base. I also remember the day a guy, in full uniform, showed up at our door. I stood in the living room waiting for mom to break down crying as she would learn you died or were missing. It was only a son looking for the residence of his parents.

On the other hand, all of it must have been incredibly hard for you. You did not get to witness mine or my brothers childhood forming unless you were on the waiting list for the next deployment, which wasn’t often. There were many milestones of our lives you missed out on. In a way, it also put a temporary dent in our relationship as father and daughter as you were not around. I grew close to my mother and older brothers and I began to cut you out. I was a young kid and did not understand that you were doing important work for the United States. You spend so much time repairing school’s for the children in foreign countries, and freeing them for being held hostage by war, all while I was at home destroying the relationship we had at the time.

You would go on for a few more deployments and would have to leave for other trips helping train other soldiers. You gained such a high rank in the military, and we were proud of you. You got to meet the president, and do all these other cool things. All of which caused you to miss even more time together. I had no idea why you were choosing to leave so much, but now I do.

As I graduated and left for college you were home more often. Our relationship grew much stronger. I began to understand that you were gone so much for the safety of our country. You understood that to better this nation against any form of terror, you had to be away from home and sacrifice time with us no matter the duration. If that is not bravery then I have no idea what is.

You gave your everything to the army, including your life. During your last deployment, only a month before you would have been done for life, you lost your life defending the United States.

I know that I’m writing this post on Veteran’s day, and some people may tell me that this post would’ve been more suitable on Memorial Day, but I wasn’t ready then.

Mom and I are heading to Alabama today so that we can spend Veteran’s day weekend helping wounded soldiers in Alabama, and visiting our old friends on the base. Not only that, but this weekend will be the very first time I’ve been to see your grave since the funeral. I know that it’s been 9 months, but I just now am finding the strength to go.

I know that you can’t read this, dad, but I love you. Thank you for all you have done, not just for me, but for every single person in this country, and for the children in Afghanistan. I would not be the young woman I am today without confronting all the challenges we faced.

Endurance

February 9, 2017.

This is the day the word “endurance” entered my world in an entire new meaning. I lost my father on that day and my entire world had become my biggest fear. The one thing I had nightmares about when I was little had become my new reality.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you how sad I am, and how half of my heart feels as if it has died too. I’m going to tell you that I believe in a God who has conquered death. I believe that I will one day look my creator and my father in the eyes once more.

My dad was a believer. All my life, he reminded me that God has a plan for me. He constantly reminded me that I was made for a purpose and if I worked my hardest, one day I will fulfill that purpose. One day I will become something so beautiful that when I approach heavens gates, I will have two arms open wide with a huge smile saying “I’m so proud of you peach!” I am smiling so big right now with that vision in my head, and the one thing that gives me peace is knowing that I’ll get to see him again one day.

Know God, know peace. No god, no peace.”

Endurance means finding inner strength and dignity to fight whatever life is giving you. My inner strength is my faith in the Lord. My inner strength is the fact that God uses regular people like me. God uses a sinful, greedy, imperfect person like me to share the story of the Lord and his love for us. I know that may not make sense to you, but I truly believe that part of the reason I was given the gift of writing is so that I can share his story and how he loves us.

Sometimes I’m not okay. Sometimes I break down and sometimes I sit in my room scrolling through photos of my dad and hating the world because he’s no longer in it. I become so furious that I will not have my favorite person of all time to walk me down the aisle, or be there when a man wants to ask for my hand in marriage. I think negative thoughts sometimes, I’m only human. But then my heart will warm and I feel a sense of peace. A sense of happiness that I was able to spend smiles and laughter and tears with one of the greatest men to ever step foot on this planet. I am so loved by Him. And by Him, I mean my father and my Heavenly Father, since they are both watching over me now.

Here’s a small portion of the eulogy I wrote for my father back in February.

“.. and if you ever met my dad, he would have made you love yourself. He would have made you love life. He would have welcomed you and made you feel very special. As so many of you have said today, my dad never met a stranger. No matter what stupid decision I made he NEVER failed to say, “I’m proud of you peach,” even though there was literally nothing to be proud of. I’ll never forget one time I was mad at myself and mad at him, and I asked him “what is your purpose in life, why do you think you’re here?” and his response was, “to provide for my family.” And Lord knows he did that with everything in his power. My father was a servant, he worked hard every single day. He served this country to the best of his ability, and still managed to come home every night when he wasn’t overseas, and make every single one of us feel special. Whether he was outside target shooting with my brothers, or playing guitar while I worked on my music, or at whatever pageant I was entered in for the month. He was there, every hour, every second. He didn’t miss a thing. When he would get back from being overseas, we would sit down and show him pictures, and talk for hours because he wanted to hear every detail of our lives while he was gone. One of the main things that gives me comfort now is knowing that some day I’ll get to have one of those conversations with him again.”

My dad lived a life with endurance. He taught his entire family how to live with endurance. One day I was upset because some girl from school had said something rude about me, and my dad said “Sorry Ash, people talk.” That’s it. He didn’t want me to pity myself for something so little. He wanted me to ignore the negative and love myself for things that are good about me. My faith and my family. He always encouraged me that I had so much going for me and I just needed to believe in it. He really believed in it, and in all of us. My dad was also giving. When he gave, he gave with all that he had. I believe when you give so much to the world God will reward you because he rewards those who love Him.

For those of you reading this that knew my father, I encourage you to continue fighting with endurance. I encourage you to live the way that my dad did. Full of love and living in the now. We can’t worry about the days ahead because it’s not healthy to worry at all. When you are lost and struggling on sad days, ask yourself, “what would A.B Parker do?” I guarantee it won’t lead you wrong. Give thanks to the lord for letting us love a man like my dad. Thank him for letting us learn from the greatest love story, and letting us know how to be a selfless from a man of God.

For those of you that have prayed for my family during these past few months, God bless you. I can honestly say that your prayers are being answered and my family is finding peace in our new normal. Praying for someone is the purest form of love. Thank you all so much.

I will keep my faith stronger than ever before in times like this. I promised my dad that my faith will always be priority, because without it I am nothing. I cling to the truth that my dad is watching over me and my God is constantly protecting me. Once again, I’ve never felt more loved. I will fight with endurance, because my dad lived with endurance.

I know this post comes pretty late as it’s almost been 9 months since it happened. I know I’ve thanked people, but now that I’m in a better place and writing on this blog often, I thought I would give a true thank you to everyone.